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Proceedings Paper

Mesospheric sodium structure variability on horizontal scales relevant to laser guide star asterisms
Author(s): Thomas Pfrommer; Paul Hickson
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Paper Abstract

Adaptive optics (AO) systems of modern telescopes use laser guide stars, produced by resonant excitation of sodium atoms in the mesosphere at around 92 km. Wavefront sensor subapertures, if sufficiently far away from the primary mirror center, resolve the internal structure of the sodium layer. The variability of this structure is caused by the influence of gravity waves and wind shear turbulence. The relevance of such dynamics to AO has been investigated over the past four years. A high-resolution lidar system, employed at the 6-m liquid mirror telescope, which is located near Vancouver, Canada, has been used to study mesospheric dynamics, such as the temporal behavior of the mean altitude. The main results from this study have been published elsewhere and will be summarized here. Along with the temporal variability, the mean altitude on horizontal scales of order IOs of meters has been studied by introducing a tip/tilt stage in the experimental setup. This enables us to swap the laser pulse within a 1 arcmin field of view. The horizontal mean altitude structure function has been measured on 10 observing nights between July and August 2011. Results reveal severe structural differences and a strong horizontal anisotropy. Individual laser beacons in a laser guide star asterism will therefore have at the same time significantly different focus heights. By propagating this 2d structure function to the entrance pupil of a 39 m telescope, we derive a differential focus wavefront error map.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2012
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 8447, Adaptive Optics Systems III, 844719 (13 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.926056
Show Author Affiliations
Thomas Pfrommer, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Paul Hickson, The Univ. of British Columbia (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8447:
Adaptive Optics Systems III
Brent L. Ellerbroek; Enrico Marchetti; Jean-Pierre Véran, Editor(s)

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